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Checking In With Busan

오랜만이에요. It's been a long time. I can't even remember when the last post was, and for that I apologize. But, let's go ahead and check in with what's happened with Busan lately, and quite frankly quite a bit has happened.

The Future

The biggest, and probably most important news, is the announcement from the league that Ansan Mugunghwa (aka Police FC) CANNOT be promoted to the K League Classic next season. The police team will move to Asan, and a new team will be sprouted in Ansan. As a result, the 5th-placed team will qualify for the playoffs. Guess who that is? (hint, it's us). Why the league decided to go this route is unknown to me, but I'll take it nonetheless. For the record, logic would suggest that the police team in Asan should go up should they maintain their league position.

The current league table (matches to be played today in a few hours) has us narrowly ahead of Daejeon for the 5th spot with Seoul E-Land just behind them.

As of now, Busan has a game in hand on the purple team, and the other Seoul team has a game in hand on us. Gyeongnam and Anyang have outside shots at the playoff spot, but in all likelihood it will come down to a battle of the Challenge's three "big clubs". More detail will be gone into in the future, but Busan's path is a bit rough as their final four matches will be against Ansan, Gangwon, Bucheon, and Seoul E-Land (that last one may be a big one).

The team itself has been playing much better as of late. In their last 10 matches, Busan picked up 20 points out of 30 (record of 6-2-2) to pull themselves off the bottom reaches of the table and into their current position. The question remains though, was it too late?

Team Update
Lim Sang-hyub returns! (photo courtesy of busanipark.com)
Choi Young-joon, who I have long criticized for rotating the team too much, finally seems to have found his preferred XI. The return of Nilson Junior to the central centerback spot in a back 3 seems to have helped solidify some of the defensive issues. Popp, while unimpressive in terms of his overall skill set, continues to score (15 league goals). Jeong Suk-hwa has enjoyed a resurgence on the right side of the new 3-4-3, and has provided six assists thus far to lead the team. Lim Sang-hyub recently returned to the team following the completion of his military service, and if Busan can work him in and make the playoffs, that front three has potential to give Busan the scoring push they need to make it back up.

Slightly ironically, the team's rise has been almost in conjunction with Choi dropping many of the names that came in during the summer that were supposed to ensure Busan's promotion. Players like Stojanovic, Choi Seung-in, Ko Kyung-min, Lee Young-jae, Lee Chang-geun, and Lee Won-young.

Next Up
Busan faces Anyang today in a critical match for the IPark (photo courtesy of busanipark.com)
As mentioned earlier, Busan's final run will be tough. As such, it's vitally important that Busan wins both matches before that stretch, beginning with today's match against Anyang. Anyang currently sit in 9th place, but are just six points behind us. Their playoff hopes are slim, but a win against us would give them renewed hope they can grab one. Busan has had the edge against Anyang in their three previous matches this season, winning twice (3-1, 2-0) and losing one (0-1). Although the one loss was on the other road trip up to Gyeonggi-do.

Other Busan Teams
The U18 team wins the U18 Championship (photo courtesy of kleague.com)
Checking down the leagues, we come to the R League. Busan's R League squad currently sits in 2nd place in Group B, two points behind leaders Daegu. There are just a couple matches left in this season. Busan's high school/U-18 squad at Gaeseong High School has had a mixed season. Their K League Junior campaign was unimpressive as they finished midtable. However, they managed to win the U18 championship (defeating Incheon U18 4-3 on penalties) and reach the semifinals of the U17 championship (this time losing to Incheon U17 2-4 on penalties).

R League Group B table (courtesy of kleague.com)

K League Junior Group B table (courtesy of kleague.com)

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